Bona Drag – Perhaps Morrissey’s Best ‘Album’?

Irregular Regular

Forget my fate.
I have always regarded Your Arsenal as my favourite solo album, closely followed by Viva Hate.

But…

Having just listened to the original Bona Drag compilation on my way to work this morning for the first time in a very long time, it occurred to me that THIS could perhaps be Morrissey’s best solo ‘album’.
Of course I am aware this isn’t a studio album, only a mere compilation of early singles and b-sides.

And yet…

This collection of songs, both lyrically and musically, is cohesive enough to be regarded as an album, much more so than some of his recent efforts in my opinion.

If we were to accept Bona Drag as an album in the traditional sense, perhaps this could indeed be regarded as his very best.
There is not a single dud within it, a hugely enjoyable listen from the first note in Piccadilly Palare to the last one in Disappointed.

Does anybody here agree?
 

Flibberty

Well-Known Member
I agree that Bona Drag is a fine collection of songs, but I personally wouldn't put it ahead of all other Morrissey albums.

I think that when you look at Morrissey's work, there was a clear decline in quality between 1988 and 1990 (the peak possibly being the b-sides session for 'Everyday is Like Sunday'), and that is shown somewhat on Bona Drag. Not all of the singles were top quality and I would say that the blend of 1988 and 1990 songs is not entirely cohesive.
 
D

Deleted member 27456

Guest
I cannot honestly pin point myself a single album, even "Kill Uncle" I love all of them, the first time my brother gave me the original 12" of this charming man (New York mix) in the early 80's it was the best thing since Sex Pistols "Never mind the bollocks" album. Been collecting ever since.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
It's always topped my list here. I think it's the best representation of that early period and continuation of what people liked about him in the smiths. It covers all the bases in a way. It's at times funny, social commentary, full of the aching longing we had come to expect and depression. The music is still in that late eighties light jangle pop we had come to expect which suits his style as it never overtakes his vocal for attention. Morrisseys voice is still in that cooing sighing stage that we all liked. Arsenal quarry world peace are all still in my top picks but they're from a morrissey whos grown and changed and the morrissey on bona drag still resembles the person he was that I liked in the smiths which puts it over the top for me. It's funny to think as well that this was also morrisseys simple unencumbered period as much as morrissey can ever be simple or unencumbered and that also makes me think of it a bit more fondly
 

Quando quando quando

Well-Known Member
I cannot honestly pin point myself a single album, even "Kill Uncle" I love all of them, the first time my brother gave me the original 12" of this charming man (New York mix) in the early 80's it was the best thing since Sex Pistols "Never mind the bollocks" album. Been collecting ever since.
^^THIS^^
I like Bona Drag so much but even almost all other music from The Smiths and Moz as well.
The ranking changes as I found out that even songs that are or were considered by many people as bad or not up to the supposed standard to be expected of him, are actually quite good or even very good.
I think the expression, " They grow on you " is appropriate but maybe I am a bit too much obsessed by an artist that is so much different than anyone else in this field of pop/rock music.
But hey, what's wrong with that?
Whatever negative people say about him, his music and lyrics are second to none.
"World Peace" was and is a masterpiece as well.
No other artist does it for me like Moz.
 

Famous when dead

Vulgarian
Moderator
As compilation albums go... it is fine, but the majority existed elsewhere and not truly in the sense of an 'album' in its own right. Viva... Kill... or Vauxhal all achieve that in their own right. It takes nothing away from the quality of the songs, but it will always be a subjective best of A sides with a few B's thrown in.
My tuppence,
Regards,
FWD.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
As compilation albums go... it is fine, but the majority existed elsewhere and not truly in the sense of an 'album' in its own right. Viva... Kill... or Vauxhal all achieve that in their own right. It takes nothing away from the quality of the songs, but it will always be a subjective best of A sides with a few B's thrown in.
My tuppence,
Regards,
FWD.
To me that's a lot of albums though. A band starts and it records and releases some singles. And some other songs. Later compiles them into an album. I think it may just be a case of if you were into morrissey when it came out vs getting into the record after the fact.
 

Famous when dead

Vulgarian
Moderator
To me that's a lot of albums though. A band starts and it records and releases some singles. And some other songs. Later compiles them into an album. I think it may just be a case of if you were into morrissey when it came out vs getting into the record after the fact.
Hmm... I don't see how time makes this compilation an album in the truest sense.
Moz, after Viva... changed tactic and released singles - 7 in 2 years. Bona is just a pick and mix of that period. The albums I mentioned earlier were constructed as such and were not a collection of bits and bobs like Bona (demos/sessions aside). The merit of the tracks on it are not diminished by being a compilation, but you are basically arguing that Louder Than Bombs is equivalent to The Queen Is Dead in terms of being an album in its construction - which is not quite accurate.
Regards,
FWD.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I have always regarded Your Arsenal as my favourite solo album, closely followed by Viva Hate.

But…

Having just listened to the original Bona Drag compilation on my way to work this morning for the first time in a very long time, it occurred to me that THIS could perhaps be Morrissey’s best solo ‘album’.
Of course I am aware this isn’t a studio album, only a mere compilation of early singles and b-sides.

And yet…

This collection of songs, both lyrically and musically, is cohesive enough to be regarded as an album, much more so than some of his recent efforts in my opinion.

If we were to accept Bona Drag as an album in the traditional sense, perhaps this could indeed be regarded as his very best.
There is not a single dud within it, a hugely enjoyable listen from the first note in Piccadilly Palare to the last one in Disappointed.

Does anybody here agree?
Fair point and great post. Whilst I don't think every song is a gem, it's certainly an extremely good album in every sense.
 

Irregular Regular

Forget my fate.
Good to see this has generated some level of debate. :)

In the past I would have laughed such notions off myself, but I dunno, something clicked when I was listening to it this morning.
It just doesn't sound like a compilation of singles and b-sides, it has a certain musical and vocal style all of its own running throughout.
I know it was not recorded as an album in the literal sense. I guess what I am trying to say is, if this was ever presented to us as a studio album from the off, I for one would not have challenged that and I believe many others would not have done so either.
So if we allow ourselves to treat it as a studio album for at least a moment, I think it could just possibly be his best, or as a minimum it would be on a par with his very best.

I know this is all highly subjective, I know...
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Hmm... I don't see how time makes this compilation an album in the truest sense.
Moz, after Viva... changed tactic and released singles - 7 in 2 years. Bona is just a pick and mix of that period. The albums I mentioned earlier were constructed as such and were not a collection of bits and bobs like Bona (demos/sessions aside). The merit of the tracks on it are not diminished by being a compilation, but you are basically arguing that Louder Than Bombs is equivalent to The Queen Is Dead in terms of being an album in its construction - which is not quite accurate.
Regards,
FWD.
Guess I don't find an album to be an album just because it was recorded with the intent to be and own many albums that didn't come about that way especially older albums. I consider Abby road to be an album even though most of side two was constructed and pieced together by Paul alone after the rest quit and despite the fact that it didn't sound like the band Intended. I consider nirvanas bleach to be an album even though it contains songs originally released as stand alone singles before they knew they'd get to make a debut album. The songs weren't intended to be released in promotion for anything other than the band itself. Some albums are just collections of songs and to me if the songs didn't already appear on other albums l.ps, like everyday and suedehead did, then it's much more a legitimate album than not to me. Not saying bona drag is not a compilation album but it doesn't feel like one. It feels much more akin to a standalone album and I'm willing to consider it one. I don't think the definition is so black and white as to what is and is not an album
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Good to see this has generated some level of debate. :)

In the past I would have laughed such notions off myself, but I dunno, something clicked when I was listening to it this morning.
It just doesn't sound like a compilation of singles and b-sides, it has a certain musical and vocal style all of its own running throughout.
I know it was not recorded as an album in the literal sense. I guess what I am trying to say is, if this was ever presented to us as a studio album from the off, I for one would not have challenged that and I believe many others would not have done so either.
So if we allow ourselves to treat it as a studio album for at least a moment, I think it could just possibly be his best, or as a minimum it would be on a par with his very best.

I know this is all highly subjective, I know...
Both your posts speak very clearly to me. Your comment "something just clicked" - I often experience that with albums, and you worded it perfectly. Nailed it!
 

Famous when dead

Vulgarian
Moderator
Hey, I totally get what people are saying and I feel almost similar about My Early...
That said, the speciality of that compilation is totally undermined by the fact there's 11 compilations of 'bests' et al (outnumbering studio albums). I think I'm getting a bit romantic in my dotage, as I like the idea of an album being released amidst singles and not singles bringing about the album (whether the album has a 'flow', narrative, structure or not).
To each their own.
Regards,
FWD.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Hey, I totally get what people are saying and I feel almost similar about My Early...
That said, the speciality of that compilation is totally undermined by the fact there's 11 compilations of 'bests' et al (outnumbering studio albums). I think I'm getting a bit romantic in my dotage, as I like the idea of an album being released amidst singles and not singles bringing about the album (whether the album has a 'flow', narrative, structure or not).
To each their own.
Regards,
FWD.
No worries on my end. I find it interesting to see what people think and how they define things etc. I find all of the varieties/ways an album comes together interesting myself. So much has changed in the world of popular music and recording. Hell cliff Richards debut is a live album which I still find very strange
 

billybu69

Junior Member
Subscriber
BONA DRAG
Released: October 1990
Label: HMV
Producer: Stephen Street / Clive Langer / Alan Winstanley
Recorded at: The Wool Hall, Bath / Hook End Manor, Reading
Highest Chart Position: 9

Initially conceived as the follow-up to Viva Hate, Bona Drag instead morphed into a superior collection of singles (“Piccadilly Palare”, “November Spawned A Monster”) and killer B-sides (“Disappointed”, “Will Never Marry”, “Hairdresser On Fire”).

STEPHEN STREET: We made Viva Hate, then went back into the studio for the B-sides to “Everyday Is Like Sunday”. But the session was problematic in that there were quite a lot of mood swings from Vini Reilly at this point. So when we regrouped later in ’88, we decided not to use Vini this time. Instead it was like, ‘How about using Craig Gannon, Mike and Andy [Rourke]?’ Enough time had passed by then, which got me thinking even more that The Smiths were going to re-form.

MIKE JOYCE, drummer: We’d tried carrying on [as The Smiths], but it was that thing about having one quarter of what you love taken away from you. Then I got a call from Morrissey about a year later, asking me if I wanted to do some more work. He pretty much gave me carte blanche, so we got Andy and Craig and it felt natural.

STREET: I’m not a keyboard player, but for “Ouija Board, Ouija Board” it was Morrissey’s request to do something more like Sparks. Then, when I was no longer on the scene, Langer and Winstanley did their version.

CLIVE LANGER, co-producer: It very nearly didn’t happen at all. We’d been put together by the record company. I wasn’t a big Smiths fan and Morrissey wasn’t a Langer-Winstanley fan, though he liked Madness. So on the first day we were messing about with “Ouija Board…” and it just wasn’t sounding great. I didn’t want to put any pressure on him, so I said: “We don’t have to carry on with this.” And he said: “Fine, maybe we should just do this then leave it.” So we went to the pub. Then when we got back, the band had run through the tracks and they actually sounded pretty good. So we decided to make a start at some sort of relationship.

KEVIN ARMSTRONG, guitarist: I was quite open-minded about Morrissey. Obviously I realised that he’s an extremely sensitive, bright, intelligent artist. But on a personal level, I wasn’t really let in. I do remember Morrissey bringing in a record and us all dancing in the large studio room to “Ride On Time” by Black Box. It was his favourite record of the time.

LANGER: During the sessions, Morrissey made it clear that he was open to any of us giving him backing tracks. I wrote “November Spawned A Monster” on the piano and it sounded a bit Stones-like. He said he liked it, then did a vocal. When I realised what the subject matter was, I had this weird tune I’d been fiddling with and said: “How do you feel about me putting this in the middle as the ‘birth’?” And Morrissey said, “Let’s try it.” Then he suggested using Mary Margaret O’Hara, so the whole thing was very organic. She was completely bonkers, unfathomable, really.

ARMSTRONG: The other person who visited those sessions was Joan Sims, with Morrissey being a big Carry On fan and all that. She liked a glass of brandy and a good story. Suggs was there for a while, too. He did a voiceover on “Piccadilly Palare”.

LANGER: Morrissey had Madness come down for dinner, and also Vic and Bob one night. He’d say: “Clive, could you invite so-and-so down?” And when they’d come, he’d have dinner, then disappear. So I’d have to entertain them, which was interesting because I didn’t really know why they were there.

ARMSTRONG: Morrissey employed a chef at great expense. I think she was billed as Princess Margaret’s chef, so I thought it’d be an opportunity to eat really good food. But it was largely cream and pastries. Morrissey was always eating toast, but then there were these heavy, hearty, rich vegetarian meals. It wasn’t the worthy diet I expected.

PARESI: When you were having breakfast with Morrissey and something had got to him – whether it’s a criticism or a passionate feeling about something – he would look up and stare straight at you. It was right into your soul. You could actually feel your guts gripped. That was pretty impressive. What I remember is that sense of someone who was a beautiful savant, if you like.

ARMSTRONG: Morrissey had the haunted master bedroom at Hook End Manor. It’d belonged to David Gilmour, but originally it was the Bishop of Reading’s place or something, from the 16th Century. It’s got a long history and there were creepy vibes in the house. I think Morrissey got quite into that. We did actually play ouija one night. All sorts of things were spelt out. Alcohol and various things had been taken, so I can’t really remember. But we were in a darkened room with a candle.

Read more at http://www.uncut.co.uk/features/mor...-to-be-more-harrods-16913#Wl4cStOg4w2Dgoz6.99
 

Jamie

Bluff, Ardour & Assoc.
I wish he would have left "Suedehead" and "Everyday Is Like Sunday" off Bona Drag in favor of "Girl Least Likely To" and "At Amber." There still would have been room to pip in either "I Know Very Well How I Got My Name" or "Michael's Bones," too, for 15 tracks total. These options would have better served die-hards, especially in the U.S., by collecting more B-sides that were often only available on imports. It's hard to envision a casual fan who would want the single A-sides but not want to buy Viva Hate. Yet he did a very similar thing by including some of the later single A-sides on My Early Burglary Years which lends plausibility to such a strategy.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I wish he would have left "Suedehead" and "Everyday Is Like Sunday" off Bona Drag in favor of "Girl Least Likely To" and "At Amber." There still would have been room to pip in either "I Know Very Well How I Got My Name" or "Michael's Bones," too, for 15 tracks total. These options would have better served die-hards, especially in the U.S., by collecting more B-sides that were often only available on imports. It's hard to envision a casual fan who would want the single A-sides but not want to buy Viva Hate. Yet he did a very similar thing by including some of the later single A-sides on My Early Burglary Years which lends plausibility to such a strategy.

..........but, for what it is, Suedehead & Sunday need to be there, that's the whole point of the original post.
 

billybu69

Junior Member
Subscriber
..........but, for what it is, Suedehead & Sunday need to be there, that's the whole point of the original post.
Take Suedehead and Sunday of the track list, replace them with one or two other tracks, and Bona Drag is no longer a compilation album, but a stand alone album with a lot of singles taken from it, and as such is this not Morrisseys best album ever?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I think it's the best representation of that early period and continuation of what people liked about him in the smiths.
Agreed. It's really the last time he still felt and sounded like the same artist who was in the Smiths. After this album, there was a lot of pushing away from his past and maturing (for better or worse). He never quite looks or sounds the same after this - out goes that slightly fey woman's blouse-wearing bookish version, and in creeps the beer-loving chunky fan of boxing and football hooliganism.

Even 'Viva Hate', sounds quite different, but this feels the closest to a 'missing' Smiths album.
 

Ketamine Sun

SCROLL & DESTROY
BONA DRAG
Released: October 1990
Label: HMV
Producer: Stephen Street / Clive Langer / Alan Winstanley
Recorded at: The Wool Hall, Bath / Hook End Manor, Reading
Highest Chart Position: 9

Initially conceived as the follow-up to Viva Hate, Bona Drag instead morphed into a superior collection of singles (“Piccadilly Palare”, “November Spawned A Monster”) and killer B-sides (“Disappointed”, “Will Never Marry”, “Hairdresser On Fire”).

STEPHEN STREET: We made Viva Hate, then went back into the studio for the B-sides to “Everyday Is Like Sunday”. But the session was problematic in that there were quite a lot of mood swings from Vini Reilly at this point. So when we regrouped later in ’88, we decided not to use Vini this time. Instead it was like, ‘How about using Craig Gannon, Mike and Andy [Rourke]?’ Enough time had passed by then, which got me thinking even more that The Smiths were going to re-form.

MIKE JOYCE, drummer: We’d tried carrying on [as The Smiths], but it was that thing about having one quarter of what you love taken away from you. Then I got a call from Morrissey about a year later, asking me if I wanted to do some more work. He pretty much gave me carte blanche, so we got Andy and Craig and it felt natural.

STREET: I’m not a keyboard player, but for “Ouija Board, Ouija Board” it was Morrissey’s request to do something more like Sparks. Then, when I was no longer on the scene, Langer and Winstanley did their version.

CLIVE LANGER, co-producer: It very nearly didn’t happen at all. We’d been put together by the record company. I wasn’t a big Smiths fan and Morrissey wasn’t a Langer-Winstanley fan, though he liked Madness. So on the first day we were messing about with “Ouija Board…” and it just wasn’t sounding great. I didn’t want to put any pressure on him, so I said: “We don’t have to carry on with this.” And he said: “Fine, maybe we should just do this then leave it.” So we went to the pub. Then when we got back, the band had run through the tracks and they actually sounded pretty good. So we decided to make a start at some sort of relationship.

KEVIN ARMSTRONG, guitarist: I was quite open-minded about Morrissey. Obviously I realised that he’s an extremely sensitive, bright, intelligent artist. But on a personal level, I wasn’t really let in. I do remember Morrissey bringing in a record and us all dancing in the large studio room to “Ride On Time” by Black Box. It was his favourite record of the time.

LANGER: During the sessions, Morrissey made it clear that he was open to any of us giving him backing tracks. I wrote “November Spawned A Monster” on the piano and it sounded a bit Stones-like. He said he liked it, then did a vocal. When I realised what the subject matter was, I had this weird tune I’d been fiddling with and said: “How do you feel about me putting this in the middle as the ‘birth’?” And Morrissey said, “Let’s try it.” Then he suggested using Mary Margaret O’Hara, so the whole thing was very organic. She was completely bonkers, unfathomable, really.

ARMSTRONG: The other person who visited those sessions was Joan Sims, with Morrissey being a big Carry On fan and all that. She liked a glass of brandy and a good story. Suggs was there for a while, too. He did a voiceover on “Piccadilly Palare”.

LANGER: Morrissey had Madness come down for dinner, and also Vic and Bob one night. He’d say: “Clive, could you invite so-and-so down?” And when they’d come, he’d have dinner, then disappear. So I’d have to entertain them, which was interesting because I didn’t really know why they were there.

ARMSTRONG: Morrissey employed a chef at great expense. I think she was billed as Princess Margaret’s chef, so I thought it’d be an opportunity to eat really good food. But it was largely cream and pastries. Morrissey was always eating toast, but then there were these heavy, hearty, rich vegetarian meals. It wasn’t the worthy diet I expected.

PARESI: When you were having breakfast with Morrissey and something had got to him – whether it’s a criticism or a passionate feeling about something – he would look up and stare straight at you. It was right into your soul. You could actually feel your guts gripped. That was pretty impressive. What I remember is that sense of someone who was a beautiful savant, if you like.

ARMSTRONG: Morrissey had the haunted master bedroom at Hook End Manor. It’d belonged to David Gilmour, but originally it was the Bishop of Reading’s place or something, from the 16th Century. It’s got a long history and there were creepy vibes in the house. I think Morrissey got quite into that. We did actually play ouija one night. All sorts of things were spelt out. Alcohol and various things had been taken, so I can’t really remember. But we were in a darkened room with a candle.

Read more at http://www.uncut.co.uk/features/mor...-to-be-more-harrods-16913#Wl4cStOg4w2Dgoz6.99
funny stuff, thanks for this. But, 'Black Box'? M? must have been around the same time he was experimenting with Ecstasy, don't know what else can explain it! :lbf:

 
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